Susan B. Anthony National Home and Museum
Authorities are investigating a fire that broke out at the Susan B. Anthony National Home and Museum in Rochester, New York, over the weekend, but stopped short of destroying the building and antiques.
Deborah Hughes, the museum’s president and CEO, said in a statement that the damage was limited to the back porch, where the fire started. She credited the Rochester Fire Department with arriving within minutes and quickly containing the fire before it spread to the interior of the historic building.
“This may have been a tragic loss of a national historical treasure,” she wrote. “Instead, it is a story of good work done by first responders who care deeply about life, our community and our cultural heritage.”
The Anthony Museum was the home of the legendary suffragette and the site of her arrest for voting in 1872. It was the seat of the American National Woman Suffrage Association while Anthony was its president, as she died in 1906.
A WXXI station member in Rochester reported that “the cause of the fire is suspicious but is still under investigation.” The RFD confirmed that the Rochester Investigative Unit is currently investigating, adding that no civilian or firefighter casualties have been reported.
The exact details of the fire are unclear. Hughes said the museum’s surveillance cameras showed “a person at the back door moments before the fire broke out.”
Firefighters were alerted to the fire just after 1:00 a.m. ET Sunday to find their back porch was engulfed in flames, the Rochester Fire Department told NPR via email. Some tended to the fire while others were forced inside to get the smoke out of the building and protect the artifacts inside.
Hughes noted that first responders removed the pictures from the wall, carefully stacked them, and moved various other objects out of harm’s way.
“The Rochester Fire Department has long recognized the importance this property has to our local community as well as the nation,” battalion commander Joseph Luna said in a statement provided to NPR. “The firefighters did a fantastic job tonight in reducing the effects of the fire on both the museum and its exhibits.”
There was some damage to an entrance and some water damage to a rug, said Lt. Jeffrey Simpson, an RFD spokesperson.
Hughes said the porch is more than 100 years old, but it was not the building’s original porch and wasn’t necessarily of particular historical interest, according to WXXI. The museum has insurance, but it is not yet clear how much it will cover or if any other state or federal funding might be available to help restore the national landmark.
This story originally appeared on morning edition live blog.